Monthly Archives: May 2015

TGOC 2015 Al’s Last Dance Part 2

This morning our intrepid heroes had a minor catastrophe. Luckily it was captured for all to enjoy.

Sadly I don't think Al has packed enough whisky or wine to erase this sight from his mind!

Continuing with the ultra light ethos that Al and Lord Elpus have been for championing on this crossing, the pizza delivery boy delivered a deep crust meat feast to them just as the porters had made camp and brewed them a cup of joe.


TGOC 2015 Al’s Last Dance Part 1

Just in over the interweb from Alan Sloman and Lord Elpus who last Friday started out on the West coast of Scotland walking towards Montrose on the East coast, a photo of their first morning camp has arrived.

As can be seen in the photo Alan and Lord Elpus are following the ultra lite philosophy of backpacking. They are utilising porters and the odd food delivery service along the way. As you can see it's not just porters but baristas they have employed, so over breakfast and a great mug of java they can discuss that days daunder, and meal options.
You can read Alan's own words from the crossing at his blog.


Coffee Addiction

I don't think it's any secret about how I feel about coffee. I love it.

Yes I buy from those tax avoiding establishments like Costa and Starbucks. It's only been the last couple of years that we have seen the corporate tentacles of these giants reach out and strike Wisbech.

Wisbech isn't big enough to support a hip and trendy artisan coffee shop like those that can be found all over that cesspit London. These corporate behemoths are the closest we get in the town. Oh we have coffee shops but you couldn't describe them as an artisan coffee shop. One or two have really nice cakes to have with your tea or coffee but this does not make a coffee shop.

I'm loathe to call the staff at these local establishments baristas, although technically they are. However if you asked for a flat white they would be clueless about what one is, and even more lost in trying to make one. They can make a passable coffee. But there is no technique or true artistry involved. Coffee isn't their passion. That for me is what separates a “coffee” shop from a coffee shop. And to be fair to these local pervayers of beverages Starbucks and Costa are no better.

So what do I make my coffee with at home? I use an Aeropress, I just love the coffee that this inexpensive device makes. Plus it's quick to clean up afterwards too.

I have a moka pot which I use when I want to make espresso in a large quantity. I got one of these after I had an espresso machine. But that sadly was a costly mistake. It just didn't make enough coffee in one go. When I drank large mugs of coffee, I needed more than the one cup that the machine made in use. So I ended up getting a moka pot to make enough espresso in one go.

I do take my coffee seriously but I haven't reached the hipster heights yet of roasting and grinding my own beans yet (that is a whole new level of expertise for me). I've also not made the jump to having a kettle I can get the exact temperature of boiling water I need for making the perfect brew.

So you can see why the theme of the game VivaJava the coffee game the dice game appealed to me. You have guessed the theme from the title haven't you?

If you haven't guessed it's about finding coffee beans, and making that perfect blend for the coffee company you are working for. All this by rolling dice!

Wait coffee and dice? Wow this game was made just for me wasn't it?

I love the box, the artwork, the whole look and feel of the packaging. Open up and the look and feel is continued inside, even down to a burlap storage bag!

I did find it easier getting to grips with the rules for the game watching the really excellent video that Dice Hate Me produced on their website.

One of the reasons I got this game is that it plays solo. Which is great for me.

I know you can download and print addition score sheets free from the Dice Hate Me website but it would be nice to buy new pads as well. I think Dice Hate Me are also missing a trick not selling the Dice Hate Me mug that you see in the box cover art. It would be really cool to be drinking a beverage(coffee preferably) from a Dice Hate Me mug while playing the VivaJava the coffee game the dice game.

The dream scenario for me with this game is to be playing it at a coffee shop with friends while enjoying a hot beverage and cake. But I'll settle with playing with friends on a game night.

Don't forget that there is also an expansion for this game that if you can get them means getting hold of the the Dice Hate Me Angry Dice although you can just use normal six sided dice. Apparently the Angry face side of the Angry Dice is normally where the three is.

Anyway all this talk of coffee has got me craving for a coffee…


Little bits and pieces

Ok my liking of Love Letter is becoming more of an obsession! Officially this is my fifth version of the game. This version of the game is the Kanai Factory Limited Edition.
This uses the art work from the original Japanese release of the game.
I actually like this art work a lot. I can see how the art may not be everyone's cup of tea. But I do like the cartoony look, along with the pastel colours. Another thing I like about this version is that there are also two promo cards that allow you to change the gender of the princess, ie use a prince and also an alt art version of the princess.

Epic Spell Wars

After watching the season Tabletop episode where they play this game I had a look for it. Strangely enough it was not to be found anywhere, or if you could it was the usually Amazon stupid amount from a third party. However I believe this scarcity was there before the Tabletop episode aired.
But then again it could be due to Tabletop and that people snapped it up when they saw it on the list of games to be played in season 3 that was released before season three started airing. It's what I did with Marvel Legendary. I had been undecided about buying the game over the Summer. I'd watched reviews, and game play videos. Knew I was going to buy it, and had placed it high on my to buy list. But hadn't got to that point that I was going to buy it. Then in September Wil Wheaton put up the list of games for season three of Tabletop. I knew then that as soon as that episode aired I'd want to buy it, and the Tabletop phenomenon of games getting hard to buy after being on the show, would just upset and frustrate me as it would be sold out. So I went and bought it there and then (not regretted it once) before supply dried up.
From the art work, to the title of the game, this game has a look and feel of eighties rock bands, or Jack Black and Tennacious D. I'm really looking forward to playing this one with my friends, with big hair eighties pomp rock blasting in the background.
Look Wil Wheaton is a geek God ok. How could I not pick up the Wil Wheaton promo card for Five Tribes? It had to be done. I just need to track down the other promos from this years International Tabletop Day that I want. Well the Ms Day Dead of Winter promo would be nice for starters.
What is it about promos that I like? Well they aren't necessary to enjoy a game, so not needed. However for me I like them because it's like personalising the game. Ok technically there will be other people out there with the same promo in their game. But it makes the game feel to me like it is mine.
It may if the people have played the game before and not seen the promo add a small bit of variety to the game, a “oh I've not seen that before” moment.
What I don't like about promos is when companies only hand them out at certain events, or limit them to kickstarter only. I side with Tom Vassel here and that I don't mind a time window of exclusivity, however they should be made available to everyone to get easily after that period has expired. White Wizard games I think have (hopefully) got the approach spot on. Next year they will be releasing a 2014/2015 promos card expansion that will be all the promos from the kickstarter, OP events etc from those two years. I'll be buying this to get the only promo I'm missing the Star Market.
Making these promos easily accessible to fans of the game (it's community) shows that the publisher cares about the games fans and doesn't want to see them fleeced having to pay heavily inflated prices on eBay to get the promo that a lot of the time was FREE!
Sadly this is not the case with a lot of the publishers.
The Ticket to Ride 1910 expansion has been on my list for a long time. Finally I've crumbled and bought it.
The Game of the Year expansions for VivaJava the coffee game the dice game also arrived. There are a couple of mats that are purely decorative as the Lord of the Beans one (as shown above) illustrates. The thing is with kickstarter this expansion came with some dice called Angry Dice. This is a separate mini game Dice Hate Me sell, however they are also used in the Angry Dice expansion that adds an aggro element to the game. However this expansion doesn't come with these dice and therefore you have to buy the dice separately. Like most things these aren't available in the UK, and I've tried looking very hard using my extensive Google ninja skills. Ordering the dice from the Dice Hate Me store sees a whopping $60 shipping fee for a $15 order ($5 for Angry Dice and $10 for a card version of a Brewing game they do), madness. I've actually had to resort to asking a big favour from a friend in the US if he could order the game for me. Even then they charged him $15 for shipping.


Good Luck Challengers

Just a brief post wishing all those that start out on the TGO Challenge tomorrow have a safe crossing. May you have great weather (not always the case when hiking across Scotland), make great memories, and never get lost.

Have a great 20th Crossing Alan I know Lord Elpus aka Phil will keep you on the straight and narrow to the nearest pub ^_^ I'm looking forward to reading your exploits as you journey across the hills.


The Dream Ends

The Seventh Sunday Casual event that kicked off yesterday is the last casual event to try and qualify for the upcoming invitational. For me it was pressure on, I needed to do well to even stand a chance of receiving one of the invites.
In the opening round I had drawn Geki. I had been winning more games than I'd lost over the weekend, so you could argue I was on a streak. After that epic comeback against LukeD I was feeling good. Bring it on I can do this.
Round one and Geki and I are trading jabs.


Right hook to the head, I'm spinning around from the impact of the blow. I fall to my knees but I'm not down.
I get back up on my feet.
Ok I'm a game down. It's best of three though. I can come back from this. It was a lucky punch that's all. I'll show them I'm tougher than that.
Round two


Geki's upper cut connects with my glass chin. I'm flying! I land with a bone crunching jolt on the canvas floor.
My chance of getting an invite to the invitational was flowing away across the canvas. I was out for the count. No coming back from this. Game over. Yet another two nil. That score line echoes around my head like the away fans goading the home supporters at a footy match.
Reality always finds a hard way to let you down. My inability to be consistent in my game play, sees me fluctuate between Level 5 and just making Level 7. It shows in these casual competitions that I have only once made it to the second round. I think it's accurate to say I have not got a single ranking point yet. It's not a good record.
To top it off in that ebb and flow of games I'm playing. It's been more like the tides going out. I do hope this is not another slump, it took a long time to recover from the last one.
Luckily like Rocky I don't know when to stay down. I'm bruised and losing games fast at the moment, but I'll claw my way back.


An Epic Comeback

Luke and I play Star Realms online regularly. I think it's fair to say that we are evenly matched with wins going back and forth. But I have to say that this bank holiday weekend I have had a winning streak against Luke, with back to back wins.

But earlier today it was looking like this mini streak was coming to an end. Luke was sitting comfortably on 60 authority, mine was dropping steadily. Luke hit me and took me down to one authority. When it came to my turn I knew this could be my final go, that next round Luke would deal that finishing blow and get the deserved win.

Then I received the following via Twitter “WTAF!?!” from Luke.

This puzzled me because I was confused what was up? Had he been dealt a hand of Scouts? How many times has that happened, falling short by a single point of getting the win, and getting all scouts next hand? It's happened a few times to me, and usually ends up with me managing to steal defeat from a winning situation.

So I replied in the only way I could I tweeted back “o_O”

Luke quickly replied back “I think you're about to pull off the most ridiculous comeback ever… :/”

I was unconvinced. I thought at best I might have a couple of turns left. Luke would surely hit me hard again to finish me off. But my bases and federation ships started adding authority to my very depleted tally. The killing blow from Luke failed to appear.

After a couple of turns I was starting to believe and tweeted “if by a miracle I do, and it's a loong shot it'll be one for the hall of fame”

Suddenly Luke and I were both in the thirties for our authority.

Could this be happening? Did I really stand a chance of pulling this off?

My bases absorbed Luke's attempt to get back on top, the federation ships once more bout me more time. I don't think I used any thing from my bases except their authority boosting powers.

Finally the situations were reversed I was on seventeen authority and Luke was now sitting on one authority. He also had a base protecting him, meaning I had to scrape together at least five attack to finish the game off and pull off the biggest robbery in the annuals of Star Realms history. Well in the games I've played.

This was the finishing blow.

This was definitely a first for me. Such a come back, against such odds. This feels like it was my Instanbul. At half time in the 2005 final Liverpool were 3-0 down at half time after being totally dominated by A.C. Milan. No one Even contemplated a Liverpool win. How could they? A.C. Milan had won the game, there was no way you come back from 3-0 down.
But they dug deep, Gerrard inspired the team to claw their way back to 3-3 after extra time. It was such an emotional time, edge of the seat stuff. The the penalties, oh that was sooo nerve racking. But Liverpool won 3-2.
This game was definitely my Star Realms version of that match. If you had screen grabbed that sixty to one authority point in the game and asked Star Realms players what happened next I don't think one of them would of guessed this result. I hadn't my expectations as I said were I'd be finished within a couple of turns. I admire Luke's prediction, it was definitely not my view of the end result. But as the game progressed my self believe grew stronger that I would pull it off.
Although at the seventeen to one authority at the end I would of laughed a lot if the situation and then reversed again.
A totally emotionally draining game with Luke, a really incredible game.


May the Fourth Be With You


Have a great Star Wars day.
Just a word of warning I’ll be updating the post later with more photos celebrating the day. You will be able to see them also on the usual social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) channels too.
FOR THE RECORD my Star Wars movie for the day is the movie Fanboys. I really do like this movie. And is Star Wars themed.

A Sith vs Jedi battle broke out at the pub

The fight continued when they got home…

Finally something unrelated to Star Wars…

This is one for Netrunner fans, this is a take away in Wisbech!








Which Love Letter?

With eight editions/versions of the game already out in the wild, and two more on the way, Love Letter has become a bit of a phenomenon in the gaming world. Yet ask most people that aren’t gamers and they won’t have heard of it. AEG have excelled on the marketing front and getting licences to brand the game with. For licensing Love Letter is like the gamers version of Monopoly (not as prolific on the number of themed versions yet) with its licenced versions.
The game is a simple game that can be taught in a couple of minutes. For gamers it acts as a great filler game, for non gamers it acts as a nice little game they can enjoy without being bogged done by complicated rules or lots of set up.
My first copy of the game was the tempest version, the three in the photo above weren’t out then. Just the name, the lovely red velvet material storage bag, was enough to put some macho types off playing it. But if they fought those feelings they soon discovered a really nice little game that they got a lot of enjoyment out of playing. I’m hoping that the friend I’ve lent this version too will also discover that, and also think it’ll make a great game to take on the family holiday.
So which version to buy and play?
They are all basically the same game, however with the newer released games AEG are starting to make small changes to the game that fit in with the theme of that licence.
For me the deciding factor should be which of the themes appeals to you most. Tolkien fan then get The Hobbit tie in, into superheroes then get the Batman one, like Munchkin get Loot Letter. I knew a friend loved Christmas and everything about the holiday season so I bought her the Santa themed edition as a Christmas present. Know some-one getting married there is a wedding themed version!
After you have decided on the theme, you then have to decide whether to buy the boxed version or the clamshell version.
What’s the difference? The clamshell version comes with a very nice little storage/carry case for the game. That matches the theme. The boxed version is a nice solid cardboard box with lovely art work related to the theme. However the drawback is as much as I love the box it’s not very portable compared to the lovely bags. Which fit easily into a pocket. Plus there is also a lot of wasted space in the box. It could be a lot more compact. So you need to decide between a sexy little storage bag and a sexy art work box. Which is your preference? Personally I wish AEG would combine the two so I didn’t have to decide. And it would justify the box size a little better.
I hope that this short post has helped you decide which Love Letter version to get.
Oh the new ones coming out? An Adventure Time themed version, and an Archer themed version. I’m not an Archer fan so can’t see myself getting that, but I like the Adventure Time universe so will get that when it’s available.
A completely unrelated random off shoot – I saw that there have been tournament/organised play events for Love Letter. I do hope AEG release details for this. I think I can work out something but would love to see if I’m close to what they came up with.